The Graphene Jacket
Everyone has heard of Graphene. You might have even heard that it is considered a “super material”, and that while it is only one-atom thick, making it the first two-dimensional material ever discovered, it is also one of the strongest materials in the world. But do you really understand what it does and how it can be applied?
Vollebak is a cutting-edge fashion company that decided to challenge the potential of Graphene and see what happens when they put their knowledge and imagination to it. The result is the world’s first Graphene Jacket using the Nobel Prize winning material discovered by Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov at the University of Manchester in 2004. Graphene is a single, thin layer of graphite — the soft, flaky material used in the lead of your pencil. Graphite is an allotrope of the element carbon, this means that it contains the same atoms as carbon but because they’re arranged in a honeycomb lattice, the material holds different properties. The challenge has been how to get graphene out of research labs and apply it in the real world. 16 years after its discovery, graphene remains extremely difficult to work with, incredibly expensive to produce, and very hard to make in large quantities. Find out more about Graphene.
Vollebak is a unique brand that uses science and technology to make the future of clothing happen faster. Since their launch, they’ve won innovation awards from prestigious editorials such as TIME and Fast Company and have been compared to Tesla and elBulli for their radical commitment to what comes next. Vollebak is responsible for the creation of the 100 Year clothing designed to outlive you, a Plant and Algae T Shirt grown in forests and bioreactors that turns into worm food, and a Black Squid Jacket which mimics the adaptive camouflage of the squid by reflecting every colour in the visible spectrum.
True to the Vollebak style, they began their experimentation with the material by designing a fully reversible jacket, including the pockets. One side is coated entirely in Graphene and the other isn’t. While the Graphene side looks gun-metal grey, the non-Graphene side is matt black and made from high-strength, high-stretch nylon. Depending on which way around you wear it and how you use it, the jacket will interact with your body in a range of ways.
The first step to creating this jacket involved turning raw graphite into Graphene nanoplatelets, that were blended with Polyurethane to create an incredibly thin membrane, and then bonded to the nylon to create an entirely new material. The Graphene fundamentally changed the mechanical and chemical properties of the nylon by making it heat and energy conductive, and by increasing its strength. But what is truly revolutionary is that because it is only one atom thick, all of this is achieved without adding a single gram of weight.
The material is so expensive that wasting it is not an option, therefore every panel of the Graphene Jacket is cut with lasers so there are no offcuts, and then bonded together sealing the seams to make them waterproof. The material makes the jacket highly conductive, technically allowing the user to attach a power source at one end, a light bulb at the other and light it up. However, this could be a little dangerous, so Vollebak increased the material’s resistance to electrical currents by spreading out the Graphene nanoplatelets, making it safe to wear while still conducting electricity.
Graphene also conducts heat better than any material on Earth. This means that by wearing the jacket with the Graphene side next to the body in cold weather it helps balance skin temperature by sending heat from the hot areas of the body like the head, to the cold parts such as hands-without any power source. Lab tests have shown that the closer to your body the material is, the more effective it will be at regulating your skin temperature and increasing it by an average of 2°C.You can heat the jacket up by leaving it out in the sun or over a radiator with the Graphene side exposed to the heat source. Incredibly, if you then turn it inside out and wear the Graphene next to your skin it acts like a radiator, retaining its heat and spreading it around your body. They have also found evidence that the material will create less humidity than a normal membrane. It’s believed that it is somehow able to disperse the extra humidity from the heat, although the science behind this is still unclear to researchers.
Graphene’s tight atomic bonds make it impermeable to nearly all gases and liquids, except water, making the jacket both breathable and waterproof at the same time. Graphene is also inherently bacteriostatic, and is also known to be hypoallergenic and anti-static, and is certified as non-toxic.
Vollebak is looking to make wearable technology increasingly invisible over the next 10 to 20 years. They predict that instead of making independent pieces that you put on and take off, it will be embedded into our clothing, as fashion and tech simply merge into one. Graphene’s ability to conduct heat and power and withstand incredible forces, while adding zero mass, will make it a key material for this transformation. It’s a supermaterial with the same potential to change life on Earth as stone, bronze and iron once did.
Technical details of the Graphene Jacket:
- Fully reversible jacket with a waterproof zipper
- Side A is built from a graphene and polyurethane membrane
- Side B is constructed from 85% nylon and 15% elastane
- Fabric is heat conductive and heat retaining
- Waterproof to 10,000mm
- Breathability rating: RET 12 (very breathable)
- Weighs approximately 370g
- All seams are fully taped and waterproofed
- Graphene membrane is bacteriostatic
- Two laser-cut reversible front pockets
- Peaked hood with elasticated drawcord for adjustability
- Adjustable drawcord at the waist
- Articulated sleeve shape with extended underarm panelling
- Welded eyelets under the arms for additional ventilation
- Laser-cut bonded sleeve cuffs
- 4 way stretch throughout
- Graphene membrane is anti-static, certified non-toxic and hypoallergenic
- Material constructed in Italy
- Jacket built in Portugal
- Cool wash max temp 30° on a delicate cycle
- Do not tumble dry or iron
- Can be dry cleaned
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